ABOUT TRANSFORMATION OF TRASH, LIFESTYLES AND COMMUNITIES
If you compost your foodscraps it is very easy to forget about them once they’ve been placed in your compost bucket and dropped off at your neighborhood dropoff hub or curbside compost cart. Its hard to imagine that in a few months, that old food is going to become something else. But the entire joy of composting is that it’s recycling in its simplest form. You literally use the food (that you’ve hopefully already used in as many ways as you can) one more time turning it into soil and giving it another chance to grow more food. Your action turns a linear flow into a circular flow.
Food2Soil provides those of us who live in apartment buildings and can’t compost on our own with a network of easily accessible dropoff hubs. But on top of that handy service is AYCS - the part where we can reap the rewards of composting by going to collect the compost we’ve helped make from our scraps.
There are two locations for All You Can Sift Compost, also known as AYCS. This is where that black gold is actually made and also where members can go to retrieve it for their own gardening needs. One of those locations is at the Ocean View Growing Grounds on Ocean View Boulevard, (open for AYCS on Saturdays from 9:00-11:00 AM) and the other is at the San Carlos Community Garden on Boulder Lake Avenue (open on Sundays from 9:00-11:00 AM). Both of these locations are located in east San Diego, so be prepared for hot weather in the summer and cooler weather in the winter.
I go to the San Carlos Community Garden, simply because it’s closer to where I live. The garden is exactly what it says on the tin: a neighborhood space where members of the community can garden in their own plots. It also functions as an educational space for children interested in gardening and growing food.
You have to bring your own container for the compost you sift at AYCS. I often empty my foodscraps bucket at my neighborhood dropoff hub on Sundays. So it makes sense to me to use the same bucket to collect my compost at All You Can Sift. Plus, since it’s so big, it lets me take as much as I can carry. A 5-gallon bucket of dirt is definitely nothing to sneeze at.
Sifting compost isn’t back-breaking work by any means. However, it does take a little bit of exertion. The hub manager at the garden will get you set up with a wheelbarrow, a shovel or rake, and a sieve. From there, it’s on you to do the rest. You scoop the compost out of the big bin using the shovel, then pour it over the sieve that is set up over the wheelbarrow and shake out the compost. This helps get rid of the bits of compost that haven’t quite finished, well, composting! The most noticeable things at this stage are avocado pits (somewhat famous for taking a long time to break down) and egg shells, plus the mulch and leaves that are used in the composting recipe to help everything break down. Anything that is left over as you sift the compost goes right back into the pile so that it can continue onward its journey of breaking down.
Other things you might come across are the produce stickers that sometimes make their way into the compost. While everyone; from the people dropping their food scraps to those actually doing the composting, do their best to make sure these stickers don’t make it into the compost pile, it does happen from time to time! I just used an old plastic planter provided to me by the hub manager, to collect any errant stickers that snuck their way past the vigilant eyes of the composters.
The most beautiful thing about AYCS is right in the name: It is literally ALL YOU CAN SIFT! If you have the containers for it and you can carry it home, you can take as much as you can sift! This is one of the perks of being a Food2Soil member: since you helped make the compost by contributing your food scraps to the pile, you get to reap the benefits for your own garden. I have a small (though constantly growing) apartment garden, since I live in that clustered area in the middle of San Diego with lots of apartment complexes and not much in the way of yards, so one bucket is all I take with me. But for those with larger plots, or backyards, there’s definitely enough to go around and to help you nurture all of your plants.
The All You Can Sift component of the Food2Soil program shows the real beauty of sustainable living at its very finest, and it’s also really inspiring! It’s hard to know what happens to the things you recycle once they’re gone; it’s hard to know if you are really making a difference.
But this program shows you firsthand exactly what can happen if you remove food waste from the landfills and redirect it instead to a composting program. You can personally reap the benefits from the compost your efforts have helped create by using compost to nurture new plants. And when those plants, and the food they grow, have reached the end of their life cycle, they can also return to the earth, creating a perfect sustainable circle of growth and regeneration.
Elizabeth Brei is a writer and editor based in San Diego, CA. She holds an MFA from San Diego State University and a Bachelor's of Arts from Illinois State University. Her work has been featured at Loser City, HelloGiggles, and Women Write About Comics among others. In her free time, you can find her eating hummus, riding the Haunted Mansion, or being suffocated by her cats, Moo and Mai Tai.
Food2Soil Composting Collective was started in 2015 by Inika Small Earth, Inc as a community supported social enterprise. Inika Small Earth is a 501c(3) tax exempt corporation that works on fostering a circular economy that is enterprise-driven, people-powered and community-centered.